FRESNO, CA - For the second consecutive season, the Grizzlies had Opening Day spoiled by the Portland Beavers, this time in their own ballpark. Fresno kicked off the 2009 campaign with a 6-1 loss to visiting Portland in front of 10,537 at Chukchansi Park. Beavers starter Josh Geer allowed one run on three hits in six innings of work to earn the win.
The game began on a positive note for the home team in the first inning. Grizzlies starter Matt Kinney struck out Brett Dowdy to open the top of the first, and retired the Beavers in order. Leadoff hitter Mike McBryde electrified the Opening Day crowd in his first at-bat in a Grizzlies uniform, turning a routine ground-ball through the right side of the infield into a double. After stealing third base, McBryde scored on a sacrifice fly by Scott McClain to put Fresno on top 1-0.
But that would be the only run of the night for the Grizzlies, and one of only three hits mustered against a trio of Portland pitchers. The Beavers evened the score in the top of the second inning when Emil Brown's sacrifice fly scored Kyle Blanks. Brown led Portland with three hits in the game.
The visitors added single runs in the 4th and 5th innings thanks to another sacrifice fly, and an RBI-groundout. The cushion was allthat starter Josh Geer would need, as he baffled the Grizzlies bats all night long. The right-hander struck out only one batter, but held Fresno to three hits in six strong innings of work to earn his first win of the season. Relievers Mike Ekstrom and Gabe DeHoyos combined for 3.0 shutout innings in relief of Geer.
Portland put the game away in the 8th inning with reliever Keiichi Yabu on the mound for Fresno. Yabu followed Pat Misch, who hurled 2.1 scoreless frames, but did not enjoy the same success. After striking out Emil Brown to open the inning, the Japanese right-hander surrendered a single, two doubles, and another single in succession, ultimately allowing three runs in the frame to give Portland a 6-1 advantage.
The Grizzlies will take on the Portland Beavers in Game 2 of their four-game series on Friday evening at Chukchansi Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05. 2008 California League Pitcher of the Year Kevin Pucetas makes his Triple-A debut for Fresno, while the visitors counter with southpaw Cesar Ramos.